Understanding Health Insurance Benefits

Health insurance is a fact of life. You will encounter different types of insurance on your disability journey: private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. Health insurance is necessary when you have a chronic health condition, like Huntington’s disease (HD), or are at risk for HD. This is especially true if you ever intend to apply for disability. You cannot get approved for any kind of disability – short-term, long-term, state disability retirement, or Social Security disability without medical evidence.

Private Insurance

When you are actively working, you will likely have private health insurance through the Marketplace or through your employer. You may not need as much health insurance coverage when you are young, but that will change as you age. It is important to understand the different health insurance options and plan levels when choosing your benefits every year. You can find more information here and you can watch a helpful webinar here.



Medicaid is the financial need-based health insurance program and has strict financial limits. You might encounter Medicaid if your income is low, you have stopped working due to your HD, or you need 24-hour care because of your HD.  One huge benefit of Medicaid is it covers skilled nursing facilities and in-home health aids through its waiver program. You can find more information about state eligibility criteria here. 


Medicare is old age and disabled health insurance program. It is something you will encounter once you turn 65 or if you are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You have the choice to opt out of Medicare if you have the appropriate private coverage. It is important to understand that when you start Medicare, you are only enrolled in Part A and Part B. This means you are only guaranteed coverage for hospitalizations and doctors’ appointments, not drug coverage or other services. You will need to enroll in Part C and Part D plans for important additional coverage. You can learn more information here.